New Creation in Christ
NEW CREATION IN CHRIST
PREACHER – ANTONIO COPPOLA
Reading – 2 Corinthians 5: 14-21
We have come to the end of our ‘New Beginnings’ series. We’ve seen how God transformed lives in the pages of Scriptures, and how he still transforms lives today. This is really the heart of the Gospel, and what our God is all about. Tonight, as our last sermon on this, I want to bring the past 5 weeks together and touch on the essence of being a Christian – being born again as a new creation in Christ.
It is said that the upper highway area is the Bible belt ofDurban. Basically, strong concentration of Christians up here. On the surface there are lots of churches, lots of Christian schools, good middle-class Christian families and good old Christian morality. In an environment like this, I think that it’s easy to blend in as a ‘cultural Christian’.
I’m not just talking about those people who just come to church on Christmas and Easter, I’m talk about us, right here. It’s easy to fit into this middle-class Christian mould –
- On the surface we say the right things
- Do the right things
- Hang out with Christian friends
- Come to church often, go to home group, serve in church, maybe even lead a ministry
- Maybe even said the ‘sinners prayer’
The reality is that in God’s eyes, all of the above is actually irrelevant. They may be good in themselves, but at the end of the day, God isn’t really concerned too much about these things.
Galatians 6: 15 says:
“For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
The point here is, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve done some external ritual or good work, what really matters is that you are a new creation – that you have been re-created by God.
2 Cor5: 17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, the new has come.”
This is what happens when Jesus comes into our lives.
Old life – polluted by sin – original human condition – made in God’s image, but because of the Fall, all of us fall under a curse, slaves to sin and Satan. We cannot help sinning, because that is what we are – sinners by nature – and sinners sin. We may not call it sin, we may just see it as a part of being human, we don’t know any better.
In this state – cut off from God. God is holy, can’t come into his presence like this.
Heart of God – to restore all creation to him. Therefore, in order for humans to be able to be in relationship with God – we need a completely new nature, because as we are, won’t work, we are damaged to the core, our whole being is infected with a disease called sin. This is why we need to be totally reset, in actual fact, we have to die.
This is why God transforms us. The moment we trust in Jesus and have faith in his finished work on the cross, something happens. God births something of himself in us. His Spirit begins to work in us and starts to change us. Instantly, in God’s eyes, we become righteous, holy and pure. God no longer sees the sin in our lives – instead he sees us as his sons. He brings us into relationship with him. We are accepted and loved by the Father. He starts to re-make us from the inside so that we begin to become more like him. We find that the things that used to trap us and keep us in bondage, no longer do. We become a new creation.
I think that many of us here know this intellectually, but our life experience may not reflect it. We may believe up here that the Father loves us, but we find ourselves still thinking that we are not good enough in God’s eyes and are trying our best to live for God, but we feel that we never seem to make the grade. We may feel that we need to prove ourselves to God so that he will accept us. We still feel mastered by sin, and never seem to be able to get out of its destructive cycle.
If anyone is in Christ HE IS a new creation
It’s this simple, but profound truth that I think many of us battle to grasp and take at face value. In Christ we are a new creation. We are not bound any more by a sinful nature. We have a new nature. We are a new person. The core identity of this new person is that we are clean, holy and pure. And this is because of what Jesus has already done on the cross. So we live our lives as a response to this grace, as a response to what God has already done for us.
- As a new creation, I can come as I am before God because he has made me righteous. 2 Cor5:21-
- “in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.
- As a new creation, my sins, past, present and future, have no bearing on how God relates to me. He sees me clothed with the righteousness of Christ, therefore we are never separated from God any more
- As a new creation, my inclination becomes more and more to live a holy life, and sin begins to have less of a hold on me – 1 Jn 3: 9:
- “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”
- As a new creation, I am loved by the Father as I am, because I am his son, not because what I have done or not done.
Many of us – other way around – feel we have to work our way into God’s good books for him to love us. This is living legalistically – the polar opposite of the Gospel. In the Gospel – He loves us, he has poured out his grace on us, he has and is transforming us, and as a result of his Spirit working in us, we change and live differently. It is finished! And we live as a response to this finished work of the cross.
Are we saying that as a new creation we are perfect and sinless? No! Hebrews 10: 14
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being made holy.”
As a new creation we are already holy and are being made holy at the same time! Mystery of the Kingdom. In God’s eyes, we are already holy if we are in Christ. At the same time, the Holy Spirit is working in us transforming our old man into the new creation. This is why we still struggle with sin. But, as a new creation, sin is on the way out, it has lost its hold over us – God’s work in our lives is now much stronger and powerful. Ultimately Jesus is winning in our lives, and will win at the end of the day!
Constant transformation at work in our lives – we need to be in a place where we are saying to God, help, change me by your Spirit, heal my brokenness, set me free from stuff that keeps me in bondage. Myself – when I was born again, yes huge change when it happened – but God had to (and still is) working on me. Lots of hurts from my past that God slowly brought healing and wholeness into… ongoing process. Realise need for God, spiritual poverty, good place, God can come and renew and transform us. Jesus said in Lk5:31that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the ones who think they’re healthy. If we think we’re ok, we should pray to God to show us our need for him.
As a new creation we live for God
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
We’ve seen that doing stuff for God in order to please him or gain some kind of favour from him is pretty pointless and really the opposite of the Gospel. Does this mean that as a new creation, because God has done everything, we can just chill?
It says here that because Jesus died for us, therefore we have died. And as Jesus was raised to life, so we have been raised from the dead, to a new life, as a new creation.
Until we stop living for ourselves, it will be hard for us to enjoy life as a new creation. This is the obsession of much of our generation – live for me, what can I get out of this, selfish existence. We move as far as we can from pain and sacrifice and hard work – want a plain sailing, easy, pleasurable lifestyle.
Truth is that until we die, we cannot truly live. God has embedded this principle into all of creation. Seed must die before it germinates and brings new life. Worm must cease to exist and transform into a butterfly. Jesus had to die in order that true, eternal, divine quality, resurrection life could be ours. We have to die, before we can truly live as a new creation. Death to a me-centred life.
As a new creation in Christ, we no longer live for ourselves any more, but as this verse says, we live for him who died for our sake and was raised. So, as a new creation – yes it’s awesome all the incredible work that God has done for us, lavished grace upon us etc. But it cannot end there. As a result of grace, the natural response is to lay down our lives for Jesus and serve him sacrificially.
Most growth that I’ve seen in others – is when guys step out and risk for God and serve. I know it’s true for me too. If I’d had my encounter with the Holy Spirit all those years ago and just come to church every Sunday and read my Bible privately, and that’s it – yes I’d still be saved, but I would have missed out on 8 years of an incredible adventure with God, him teaching me things, growing me, healing me, through living for him.
We have to break this consumer mentality in the church. Come and receive, what’s in it for me. As the church, we are the only organization that does not exist for its current members. We exist to bring the kingdom to those guys out there, what happens in here is just a by product of that. If you’re coming here every Sunday evening to receive and have your own little personal God experience, and that’s where it ends – I challenge you to ask God to show you where you can step out and really serve him in a greater way.
So – in Christ we are already a new creation – grace poured out on us, loved by the Father, transformed and being transformed. Not an end in itself – we have been made into a new creation in order to serve God and bring more of his kingdom here on earth.